Above-the-law Amish?

Seymour man says horse-drawn buggy struck his van; Amish man refuses to pay for damage

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Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 5:00 pm

An odd and certainly unique accident featuring his van and an 
Amish horse-drawn buggy has a Seymour man perplexed.

And also out more than $4,200 in damages.

“The bottom line is that I haven’t yet received one red cent,”
 explained Ron Rhodes, whose van was sideswiped on Lakeview
 Road, just off Highway NN, west of Seymour.

“At first, (the Amish buggy driver) told me he’d pay me immediately. Then he said he needed (a repair) estimates. Now he 
needs three estimates. I’ll see what he does then, but I don’t expect to get paid.”

Rhodes said the issue now is basic principle.

“The accident was not my fault. Everyone agrees on that, even 
the (Missouri) State Highway Patrol. My van is seriously dam
aged. I just want (my van) fixed, but this Amish guy is pretty 
much telling me that’s not going to happen.

“My next visit is to the (county) prosecutor, and I sure hope
 she does something with this. Just because they’re Amish doesn’t 
mean they are law-abiding. I’ve seen it personally.”

Almost six weeks ago, on Thursday, April 26, a newer-model
 white van, owned by Rhodes and driven by Ronnie Fox, his employee, was on Lakeview Road, just off Highway NN, when a 
horse-drawn buggy jutted out from a driveway and struck the
 van on its right side.

“Immediately, the Amish man begged Ronnie not to file a 
police report ... telling Ronnie that he’d cover all the damages,”
Rhodes said. “Nowadays, that’s a common practice with acci
dents; you know, people exchanging information, because the 
police don’t want to be bothered with it if there aren’t any injuries in the accident.”

So, Rhodes consented, telling Fox to get the man’s information. Fox reported to Rhodes that the van, which is used to 
haul Amish workers, had damages to the fender and hood, a
 broken windshield, a large door dent, ripped-off side mirror,
 damaged windshield wipers and a broken antenna. The van’s 
grill also was busted.

“More than $4,000 in damage,” Rhodes said. “And it’s not a
 deal where it’s Ronnie’s word against the Amish guy. Ronnie 
was hauling four Amish with him that day ... they all witnessed 
the accident. They were with him.”

A week later, in early May, the Amish man contacted Rhodes 
and said he wanted to make payments to cover the damage.

“Then he told me that the accident really wasn’t his fault,”
Rhodes said. “Right then, I knew we had a problem.”

That’s when Rhodes called the patrol.

“By the time the patrol got to it, the accident was three weeks
 old,” he explained. “But the patrol did its own work, and (the
 patrolman) talked to the Amish man, who told the patrol that he
 had a check for me ... that I just needed to pick it up.”

When the patrol told Rhodes this information, he went to pick 
up his check from the Amish man.

“And he told me that he didn’t tell the patrol that,” Rhodes
said. “In fact, (the Amish man) told me that if I didn’t quit put
ting pressure on him, he wouldn’t pay anything.”

That’s where the case now stands.

“The most recent thing I heard from him, he said he wanted 
me to get three estimates,” Rhodes said. “This is just ridiculous.
 I can go get him 10 estimates.

“It seems to me that he’s just not gonna pay.”

He said the entire incident shows the need for two things.

First, Rhodes feels the Amish should license their buggies.

Second, he believes they should carry liability insurance.

“Both these things need to become law in this state,” Rhodes
said. “(The Amish) use our roads, but they don’t follow the same rules we do. They don’t pay road tax, but their buggies 
damage the roads a lot more than our vehicles.

“If I didn’t carry insurance on my vehicles, I’d be in jail. It’s
 not that (the Amish) can’t carry insurance — they just don’t.

“That’s why our legislators need to pass a law on this, because 
this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.”

To that end, Rhodes said he only carries liability insurance 
on his van, so he’s still out $4,200, and his damaged van remains unfixed.

“An Amish buggy damaged my van,” he said. “There is no
 question on whose fault it was. This man then gave me his word 
that he would pay for the repairs.

“Again, if this guy wasn’t Amish, there would be charges 
filed. My van was struck in the side, and it can’t be my guy’s
 fault. If nothing else, it’s property damage.

“But here I sit, more than a month after this (accident), and 
I’ve got a damaged van and no restitution.

“Amish or not, that’s just not right.”

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